Heathers (1988) Poster

(1988)

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10/10
The definition of satire on film
cadfile15 April 2004
I first saw "Heathers" when it was first released in 1989 and to this day I remember most of the lines and scenes which cause me to laugh at all the wrong times.

I went to see the film because the hot actor of the time was Winona Ryder and I was in love with her after seeing her in "Lucas" and "Beetlejuice" and "1969". In each movie she played a version of a Goth chick - very smart, very pretty, but with a monotone delivery and moody attitude.

I also wanted to catch Christian Slater. I remembered him from his role as Binx in "The Legend of Billie Jean" and in the film "Tucker: The Man and His Dream"

"Heathers" is great satire of teen life back in the 1980's. It picks apart every teen angst and cliche and spins it in a goofy plot of rebellion and revenge gone amuck.

Ryder, playing Veronica, is on the fringe of the popular clic run by 3 girls names Heather. Each Heather is abusive, dumb, and pretty. For any teen who wanted to fit in the popular crowd but couldn't make it completely will identify with Veronica.

She meets a new student, J.D., played by Slater who is the complete opposite of the popular crowd. He wants nothing to do with them or the school. Veronica finds this interesting and soon she falls under the expert manipulation of J.D. Due to what starts as an accidental death, the two start a chain of events that looks like a teen suicide epidemic that was the common fear of adults back then.

Slater steals the movie from Ryder with his sly Jack Nicholson line delivery and James Dean attitude. Ryder is good but she can't stop Slater from chewing up the scenes.

The adults in the movie are classic clueless parental units that teen movies seem to always need. The best one is the guidance counselor that says "Whether or not a teenager decides to kill themselves is the biggest decision of their life. "

Watching this movie I kept saying to myself "They just did not do that?" or "They just did not say that?" I never laughed so hard in my life at that time.

A special treat was the Heather played by Shannen Doherty. Besides Ryder and Slater, she was the only other actor that I knew (except for Patrick Labyorteaux, who played the jock "Ram" who can now be seen on JAG as Ens. Roberts). Before Heathers, Shannen had played good girl roles and had just ended a series called "Our House" where she wanted to become a pilot. Her role became more interesting after finding out she turned out like her "Heather" character in real life.

The only thing that bothers me about this film today is that it could never be made today. The suicide epidemics (that still happen from time to time) has been replaced by killing one's classmates at school. I just don't think the studios would have the guts to film a satire like "Heathers" today.

As a side note: I read some of the previous comments from users who have only seen this movie on TV. All I can say is see the uncut version either on a movie channel or rent the DVD. The language and satire will only work in its uncensored format.
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9/10
Lick it up viewer; Lick. It. Up.
Ahhh... the late 80's. When shoulder pads were still in fashion, Winona Ryder hadn't yet been arrested for shoplifting and teen movies didn't solely feature recycled actors.

When teen genius Veronica Sawyer (Ryder) gets bored with the shallow and cliquey lifestyle of the three Heathers; her new-found high school chums, she wishes them dead. She never expects it to happen, but this all changes when she meets Jason 'JD' Dean (Christian Slater), a cool, darkly-dressed rebel who moves around the US randomly with his distant tycoon father.

From the iconic opening sequence to the explosive ending, every scene is darkly comic and dripping with irony. It almost looks over-rehearsed as nearly every actor's performance is flawless. Ryder in particular shines with her angst-ridden 'Dear Diary' entries, and Slater I don't believe has ever again encapsulated such a perfect role in his career to date.

The queen Heather (Kim Walker) really deserved more screen-time. She perfectly represents the bitchy, sneering, self-obsessed High School teen. She even manages to convey vulnerability after uttering the immortal line 'Well f/ck me gently with a chainsaw.' Shannen Doherty starts off with what seems a minor part which gradually builds and lets her have fun with the role. The only disappointing Heather is Lisanne Falk, with whom we don't really connect or care about.

It's hard to find anything to pick on with this movie, but it could have used some smoother editing. The scenes cut to actors in different lighting and obvious passages of time to deliver major lines, and correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think corpses should breathe.

The humour is dark and the plot unbelievable at times, but this only adds to the surreal atmosphere and unforgettable lines. A sexy cast, a great script and director Michael Lehmann's vision makes this a must-see film and a worthy addition to any DVD collection. If you haven't yet witnessed the brilliance of Heathers, rectify this now.
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10/10
Best teen comedy ever.
nick-8485 April 2005
Daniel Waters wrote one of the best satires ever in "Heathers", a dark comedy that ranks right up there with "Dr. Strangelove" and "Network". Certainly it's the best teen comedy ever made. Why? Because in spite of its highly stylized depiction of teenagers, it caught the truest essence of what high school is actually like in America. Not only that, it trashed the entire genre and-- in a feat of sheer genius-- even the *reaction* to the genre by outside observers (namely parents). Terry Southern could have done no better.

"Westerburg high school self-destructed not *because* of society but because Westerburg High School *was* society" was restated, to near-universal praise, by Michael Moore in "Bowling For Columbine", but Waters said it before him, said it better, and frankly he's got a lot more credibility ("Hudson Hawk" notwithstanding). The cast is brilliant, even if, strangely, some of them don't seem to get what the whole movie was about. You half expect that most of the cast and crew, like the kids who sign a petition to bring Big Fun to the school for a gig, made a movie they didn't know they were making. But the key figures nailed it-- Ryder and Slater were never better.

"Heathers" is one of the best films of the Eighties-- put the lid on the Eighties, as it were. It has suffered criminal neglect, probably because it may have required an "indie auteur" to really knock the cinematic elements out of the park. The direction is competent but unspectacular. Still, the star is the writing, and Waters deserved an Oscar for this script. Unsentimental, vicious, and above all hilariously funny, he drove a stake through the heart of those oh-so-precious John Hughes films and, at the same time, set the stage for Kevin Williamson and all the rest. He did it with a perfect ear for dialogue combined with a Swiftian vision of social structures, and did it all as an argument *against* ironic detachment, for which this film and its messages needs to be revisited now more than ever. Simply incredible.
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Wicked Funny
sparklecat15 September 2003
Unlike many of the teen movies that have enjoyed enduring appeal, "Heathers" survives not due to nostalgia, but because of its intelligence and searing, midnight-black wit.

Winona Ryder is Veronica, the disillusioned popular girl who falls in with a dangerous loner - Christian Slater as the malefic J.D. The two attempt to right their high school's social wrongs and end up on a killing spree.

Released on the cusp of the 1980s, the film feels strikingly prescient and more disturbing than ever today.
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darkly funny
Gjay225 April 2003
from the moment it begins with the three heathers playing croquet, you know that you will be in for an odd, cruel, and un-john hughes alike teen film. It's black as coal, and as sour as lemons. Although Christian Slater is jack nicholson with a facelift, it's still the most memorable performance in the movie. And winona ryder is also appealing as the lost and complex veronica. Some fantastically witty lines, humurously sick set pieces, and some truly great/cack 80's music make this a classic, more of a classic cult movie.
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8/10
A disturbingly dark comedy
jared-andrews235716 June 2016
I can recall only a few times that movies have genuinely shocked me, not with a plot twist in a mystery or thriller, but with pure audacious, in-your-face moments. Those moments make an impact. They don't bruise; they scar. They brand an image or a quote into my memory that rests there forever. Heathers delivers a handful of these moments within its first 20 minutes. You can attempt to describe this movie anyway that you like, be it satirical, provocative, hilarious, wild, etc. One thing is certain about Heathers, you will not forget it.

Heathers is a disturbingly dark comedy dripping with hyperbolic satire about high school life. Every character is exaggerated. The kids are either sadistic or secretly psychotic or both. All the adults are clueless, so of course they handle each conflict with incompetence. Yet somehow the plot makes the characters appear by comparison, which is say that things get pretty crazy.

This drastically sensationalized world of high school (littered with great quotes) makes Heathers a genre-defying classic.

Boldly exploring the world of teen social life in a way for more daring and original than "16 Candles" or "The Breakfast Club" (oh, these kids are more than just their stereotypes? I never knew), Heathers takes us behind the scenes of the most popular clique in school, called the Heathers. The three founding members, all named Heather, insist on referring to each other by first name only which creates some cute confusion in the opening minutes. The film takes an abrupt dark turn shortly afterward.

The leader, Heather Chandler, needs only to utter a few sentences to reveal herself as one of the most shockingly cruel and timelessly quotable teen characters in cinema history. So shocking are her lines that they still drop jaws in 2016. I wouldn't dare spoil the great quotes from Heather or the ones from Heather or any quotes for that matter, but suffice it to say that you will never think about mineral water, brain tumors or chainsaws the same way again.

As we witness the appalling ways of Heather as she mentally mutilates the less popular, we also observe the apathy with which her actions are met. Only Veronica seems phased by how her best friend (who she hates) treats people. Since she's the only sensible character in the movie, Veronica comes up with the only sensible way to solve the Heather problem: kill her. "Accidents" ensue leading to a perceived suicide epidemic throughout the city. In death, the tormentors become martyrs celebrated for the giving lives they did not actually lead. Despite the phony praise passed onto the dead, virtually everyone's reactions to the suicides are laughably deadpan or selfish. Some seek attention by accepting blame. Others worry only about canceling school. The school's lower class students notice the glorification of suicide and view it as their best chance at popularity.

The comical take on murder/suicide is dicey. But viewers should understand it as an attempt to mock the allure some bestow on suicide. Even if this bold effort ruffles some feathers, the film presents a moral statement: all people should be treated with decency.
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A fantasy that almost every 'unpopular' kid has had at one time...
christophaskell11 November 2003
With Heathers, director Lehmann has done more than create a movie. He has successfully created an escape for any student not deemed popular by their local school scene. Although the clothes and hair can be linked to a certain era in history, the truths explored within 'Heathers' are universal, and transcend time. A film that treats high school students as capable, intelligent beings who recognize a copy of 'The Bell Jar' lying on the ground in the same breath it treats them as moronic jocks who think with their . well not their brains, is destined for controversy. If controversy was what Lehmann and writer Daniel Waters were looking for, they found it in spades. Not only was it unconventional, showing the demise of the 'popular' kids, but it dealt with teen suicide in a comical way. Not something America was ready for at the time of release, causing many problems initially with simply getting the film shown in theaters. Luckily it has found its niche market now, and is now starting to be recognized as the powerful film that it is. Almost any store rents this movie, so there's no excuse for you to not watch it. Next time you're at the store pick this one off the shelf and give it a spin, even if you don't understand it fully you will be treated to a fantasy that almost every 'unpopular' kid has had at one time. Rating: 33/40
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10/10
so VERY!!!
movieman_kev10 December 2004
Winona Ryder, back when she only used to steal movie scenes, plays Veronica Sawyer, a girl sick of being a lackey to the "Heathers" which is the cool girls clique. She meets J.D (Christian Slater), a deeply troubled young man who's quick to resort to violence (So Christian was PERFECT for the part). This film is what every dark comedy should seek to be. Biting, vicious, mean, and utterly hilarious. The 80's had so many good movies and this stands among the best. The funny thing is that if they stuck to their guns and kept the original ending as scripted it would've been even better, but that's just a minor nitpick. So the next time a teeny-bopper starts fawning over how "great" and "true to life" "Mean Girls" was, give them a copy of this and show them a REAL movie.

Anchor Bay S.E. DVD Extras: Audio commentary with director Michael Lehmann, producer Denise Di Novi and writer Daniel Waters ; "Swatch Dogs and Diet Coke Heads" documentary (30mins); Screenplay excerpt: original ending; Talent biogs; and Theatrical Trailer

My Grade: A+
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10/10
Brilliant Film
athiete6922 December 2003
Warning: Spoilers
There is hardly a doubt in my mind that Heathers is one of the best films of the 1980s, if not included in a list that names all the essential films of movidedom. The movie is about Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder) who is fed up with her role and association with the cruelest and most popular clique in Remington High. The three other members (appropriatley named Heather and identified by their last names 'Duke', hobbies 'Cheerleader', and position '#1') are the dominant members of the school and take pride and joy in other's suffering. It isn't until Veronica meets a loner named Jason Dean (Christian Slater) that she finally has an outlet to vent her frustration about her life. Eventually JD and Veronica murder the leader of the clique and are forced to cover it up with a suicide. This leads to a horrificly dark satire of the teenage suicide epidemic of the eighties. After JD's rage continues Veronica must ask herself the question: Is she on the way to the prom or to hell? The movie is brilliant acted by Ryder, but the show is stolen by Slater. His Nicholson-esque performance is eerie and he gets my vote as one of the top villains of all time. The supporting roles are done well enough with the standouts being Dean's creepy father and Paula Fleming, the guidance counselour. Lehman directs the movie with a brilliant mix of colors that range from lighter at the beginning of the movie to darker at the end, as the tone changes. Although both Lehman and Waters would never match their previous success (they were actually quite bad after Heathers) this film proves that they did at one time have something to offer the world of cinema. While the story may seem like an ordinary black comedy and satire of the 1980s teen films it has a very simple message underneath: Be your own person. We have always been told in our lives to "not do something just because it's cool". So many teens reflect that, but there is also the other side of the coin "don't do something just because it's uncool" which Veronica tries with JD. So many teens conform to unconformity which doesn't make them individuals at all, this was really the first film to satire that other side of the argument. Be your own person does not mean rebel against the popular people or to join them, it just means be yourself and I think by the end of the film the viewer shares with Veronica's journey.
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Extreme Social Politics In High School
Chrysanthepop16 July 2008
Ah, the 80s! It was quite a different time. Loud fashion, ecstatic energy. I love most of the 80's teen films, more than the 90's and 2000's films. There was a certain closeness between the characters and they were portrayed as real humans rather than just horny caricatures. Michael Lehmann's 'Heathers' is one of the best dark comedy teen satires. Lehmann briefly tackles many themes that are of concern to teenagers such as bulimia, popularity, bullying to self-esteem and suicide. This was the time when Christian Slater was a promising actor, when Winona Ryder wasn't arrested for shoplifting and when Shannen Doherty wasn't known yet for her unprofessionalism. the actors themselves were teenagers at the time and their performances come across as very natural. Slater perhaps gives his best performance while the adorable Ryder has gone from strength to strength until she almost vanishes into oblivion. Doherty is very cute and who knows what she could have achieved had she been more professional and not gone into soaps. I wonder whether the very young cast understood what kind of film they were doing or did they think of it as acting in a teen-flick? Waters is writing is amazing and even though a lot of the film is exaggerated, it brilliantly mirrors teen-life in the 80's (which isn't that different today either) and is brutally honest but at the same time funny. The dialogues and one liners are extremely comical and at the same time wonderfully simple. There's also a lot of clever symbolism. For example, Slater's Jason Dean says: People will look at the ashes of Westerburg and say, "Now there's a school that self-destructed, not because society didn't care, but because the school was society." This one line does mark a crucial truth about teenagers because for most teenagers, high-school IS society. Forget these 'American Pies', 'Mean Girls', 'One Tree Hills' etc. None of these wannabe teen flicks will ever be able to match up to the excellence of 'Heathers'. This is one of (if not THE) the best teen films.
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10/10
I'll admit it, I was a Veronica!
lambiepie-217 May 2003
When this film came out, I didn't see it in the theater. I caught it in the video store. I walked into the video store and the funeral for the Football player was running. I stopped, watched, and laughed my head off. I immediately rented "Heathers" and fell in love with it.

"Heathers" is the realization of what almost every kid in high school was exposed to at one time or another. You were either a "Heather" or a "Veronica" or the spooky/mysterious new kid, or the jock, or the undesirable, or the cheerleader, or the kid who wanted "in" as a "Heather" or..or..or. The only thing is that "Heathers" goes on to show you what happens "if"...If you could get away with some of the things you were thinking of at the time!

The actions of the parents and teachers are to die for. When you're young you think you can figure out just about anything, or figure out what the adults are thinking and try to get around it. "Heathers" gets into it all, very darkly, and carries it off well. Although I thought the ending was a bit too...tidy.

If you're in High School, (over 17 of course) or in College looking back at High School, you'll identify with this film. If you're an adult, this may remind you of those days, but this is a nicely done dark humored film. Go rent it today, see it uncut.
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7/10
Corn nut chaser, anyone?
pekinman21 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Michael Lehmann's film 'Heathers' is a hard one to rate. It is a very dark comedy that wouldn't be funny at all if it weren't for little moments and certain characters. Much of the humor, as seen by the writers, is geared towards older teen-agers but there are moments that are very much for the adults; like the cynical teachers smoking in the meeting room and the sinister minister at the various funerals, Heather No. 3 dabbing her forehead from water at the holy fount in the church, and the quarterback's father who says "I love my dead gay son." I remember when this film was released in 1989 and it caused a sensation with the industry cognoscenti in West Hollywood and became an instant cult movie. Whether it is now a classic cult film is questionable.

Certainly Winona Ryder and Christian Slater went on to great careers and it's good to see them here so young and fresh and, especially in Slater's case, uninhibited in his acting and very impressive as such.

Shannen Doherty, as Heather No. 2, was very new on the scene as well and she is probably the funniest of the leads, coming into her own after Heather No. 1 is murdered and Doherty takes over the mantel of the most popular girl at Westerberg High School.

The parents are all portrayed as near idiots which fits the view of most 16 year olds. Every clichéd group of students is on display here. The Heathers and Veronica, the beautiful girls who rule the roost, the nerds (who are very funny), the dumpy and dull girls and the jocks.

The film takes aim at all of these entities and sets out to destroy the popular students and the jocks. Christian Slater, the outsider, has come to town and like Jehovah sets off on a killing spree of Biblical proportions, using the disgruntled Veronica (Ryder) to innocently, at first, help him.

The movie basically is mocking the over-emotionalism of young people, the phony hypocrisy of the teachers and the comatose indifference of parents. It hits bull's eyes in all three of these intentions.

But the whole leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, even with the strangely happy and surreal ending with the change of order coming about as Veronica takes over the mantel of most popular girl and befriends the overweight and friendless Martha, a nice bit of understated comedy played by Carrie Lynn who doesn't speak a single line until the very end, when she gets the last words in the movie.

'Heathers' not as clever as it once seemed and I can't rate it all that high as comedy, and as satire it really is too dark and disturbing to be really funny. It has a bitterness and cynicism that was rather a new thing in teen films at the time, and has spawned a number of copycat movies and TV shows.

But the movie has a strange impact, like a spiked date-rape drink, followed by a corn nut chaser to blow all the poison out of the system. And it certainly lingers in the memory, especially the opening and closing versions of the song 'Che sera sera'.

It's a good solid entertainment for younger adults and older teens but it's not one of the great dark comedies or cult classics that the promoters told us it was when it was released.
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10/10
The popular kids get whats coming to them.
DisturbedPixie1 November 2004
"Heathers" is these 3 popular girls in highschool. They rule the school. Veronica joined the clique after being promised the world. Veronica hates her friends. They are cruel and self absorbed. But one day she meets a hot rebel named Jason Dean and she is smitten. He also hates the Heathers too, and of course thats a big plus.

One night after being ridiculed at a college party veronica tells Heather #1 off. Heather explains to Veronica that she is nothing and soon the whole school will know that as well. Veronica is about to go back to kissing Heather's ass until J.D. crawls through her window and convinces her that instead she can get revenge. Little does Veronica know that J.D. isn't really playing with a full deck of cards, and his idea of revenge is more violent than hers. The best part about the movie is how stupid everyone in their town is. The whole movie is a satire of Highschool, and what its like. How parents can be so cold, how the kids can be so cruel, and the way that life can suck.
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8/10
Outrageous Teen Satire Foreshadowed The Future
CitizenCaine18 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Heathers has become a cult classic of the high school life genre and rightfully so. Unlike a great majority of films, which previously depicted teenage life, Heathers does not assume that the majority of teenagers are victims or victimized by a select group of nasty peers, parents, or teachers. Sure, the film displays the various stereotyped groups: Queen Bees, Wanna Bees, Stupid Jocks, Bookish Rule-Followers, Geeks, Social Outcasts, and the Lone Mysterious Avenger. However, Heathers utilizes the stereotypes in unique ways, some equally hilarious, sad, and sick to make serious points about real teenage life, peer pressure, teen suicide, do-good faculty, and (most bitingly) clueless parents.

What must have seemed shockingly outrageous in 1989 actually echos the times we live in now. Anyone who has worked with teenagers for any length of time, such as teachers, coaches, mentors, or parents realizes that today's teenagers are much like some of those portrayed in the film: Amoral, disrespectful, extremely cruel, foul-mouthed, lacking in character, self-absorbed, undisciplined, and unfeeling. Most of them possess several of these traits and are clueless about so-doing. Christian Slater gives a perfect performance as the Jack Nicholson-like J.D. who captures all of the aforementioned traits, as well as Winona Ryder who captures them to a lesser degree. Together they explode on screen as a teenage couple intellectually justifying amorality through their twisted reasoning (reminiscent of the Leopold and Loeb case) that somehow their collective, morally bankrupt actions improve their school. The catalysts for their actions may be the bitchiest queen bees ever seen on screen: The three girls named Heather: Kim Walker, Lisanne Falk, and a Pre-90210 Shannen Doherty.

At first, the audience identifies with the odd couples' actions and finds them hilarious and off-beat. As the stakes get higher, an emotional void develops between Slater's J.D. and Ryder's Veronica. Ryder discovers that non-conformity is not and should not be an end unto itself, and she has to choose between what she knows is right and Slater. Along the way, the film highlights the parenting anomaly that was already underway at the time of the film's production as a result of the misguided self-esteem movement which devoured the public school system across the country. In both Slater's and Ryder's parents, we see elements of childlike parents who either have no control or who allow their kids control of their households. With Veronica's parents, it's a little subtle, but it's clearly the case between Slater's J.D. and his dad (where their banter indicates almost complete role reversal). Parents are merely like friends. Scenes like this may have seemed comical and satirical at the film's release, but the reality is they're all too commonplace in real life today. I've witnessed dozens of such exchanges between teenagers and parents myself. Perhaps the scariest message of the film is how it handles the subject of teen suicide; the teenagers' reactions to their classmates' deaths are simultaneously hilarious and outrageous. Their indifference is especially chilling and strangely realistic. The faculty and parents' reactions are similar. The film ends on a more upbeat note, which seems antithetical to the rest of the film. I think the planned original ending would have been more consistent with the film's tone. Kudos to writer Daniel Waters, the real star of this film. The film's dialog created a world of its own. *** of 4 stars.
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10/10
I highly recommend this movie, my favorite of the 80's.
jscolts15 September 2003
This is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. The writer was brilliant to come up with such original dialogue. It does get pretty dark at times, but if you have a sense of humor you should be able to enjoy this movie.
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9/10
After "The Breakfast Club" and John Hughes, and before "Clueless" and "Mean Girls," there was "Heathers"
dee.reid12 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
  • "The extreme always seems to make an impression."


^ How very true.

In the post-Columbine, post-grunge rock era of 2016, I'm actually quite certain that a film like this could not be made in today's time. The 1988 black comedy "Heathers" (which was released theatrically one year later in 1989) is by far one of the funniest, most vicious satires ever made. I just turned 31 today, and decided to watch the film again as a birthday treat to myself; I first came across "Heathers" when I was in high school, and I remember thinking at the time that it was one of the strangest teen comedies I had ever come across in my life. It was unlike any teen film I'd seen before it. Back then, I did not fully understand the purpose of satire or possess a full grasp of the meaning behind "black comedy" - but I do now.

In other words, I love satire, and "Heathers" has plenty of it (and much, much more).

"Heathers" came out at the tail-end of the '80s, after nearly a full decade of the likes of the late John Hughes (1950-2009), his imitators, and stupid teen gross-out/sex comedies; Cameron Crowe's "Say Anything..." (1989) would finish out the '80s on a good note. But, put simply, the decade was a wasteland of teen comedies; Hughes obviously made the best - and sappiest - of them all. But between "The Breakfast Club" (1985) and "Say Anything...", there was "Heathers."

"Heathers" has its origins in the mind of its screenwriter, Daniel Waters, a former video-store clerk - much like a certain hip indie director who would gain fame in 1992 and who went by the name of Quentin Tarantino - who had written a massive 200-page screenplay that he wanted Stanley Kubrick to direct. Wishful thinking at its best, perhaps, but the then-26-year-old Waters had caught on to something with his script: it was excessive, it was cynical and subversive, it was outrageous (and sure to generate plenty of controversy upon its theatrical release), it didn't take itself all that seriously, it mocked teen conventions (including the hope and idealism that often drives youth-centered social movements), and it was simply unlike anything else that was out there at the time.

Hollywood usually runs away from scripts like this; "Heathers" is very much the definition of a pitch-black comedy that manages to elicit laughs one moment, and then audience members will be kicking themselves the next for doing so. Much like later teen comedies produced in the '90s and 2000s - like "Clueless" (1995) and "Mean Girls" (2004) - and typically centered around teenage girls, the film, in its own unique hipness, invents its own lingo, culture, and style that was bound to be followed by its many like-minded imitators over the next two decades.

Directed by Micheal Lehmann in his directorial debut, "Heathers" centers around a clique of four very wealthy, very popular high school girls at the fictional Westerburg High School in Sherwood, Ohio; all are named Heather - their cruel, vicious leader/"queen bee" Heather Chandler (Kim Walker); the stylish but weak-willed cheerleader Heather McNamara (Lisanne Falk); and the bookish follower Heather Duke (Shannon Doherty). There is a fourth "Heather," except that her name is actually Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder, also the story's narrator). Veronica was somehow plucked from relative obscurity and joined their ranks, and she loathes every minute of it. Sick of her "best friend" Heather Chandler's cruelty to their classmates, she's looking for a way out and fortunately - or unfortunately? - she finds her savior in the newly transplanted, self-styled rebel-with-a-cause Jason "J.D." Dean (the always-cocky Christian Slater, whose character's name is quite possibly a reference to Hollywood icon James Dean, or the late author J.D. Salinger).

From there, Veronica and J.D. carry on something resembling a fling, but get way in over their heads when a prank they play on Heather Chandler goes terribly awry and results in her death - thereby turning her into a martyr of sorts - J.D. conspires to up the ante by launching his own personal crusade against the school's popular elites. Veronica, meanwhile, has to find a way to stop him before it's too late.

If Molly Ringwald was the "teen queen" of the '80s, then Winona Ryder represented the darker underbelly of teen angst; I remember the first time I saw her in "Beetlejuice" (1988) and she probably became my first celebrity crush. I loved her character here and the growing realization of just how far her actions have gone as she also begins to realize how sick and deranged J.D. truly is, and her desperate attempts to try to stop him. I also loved Slater's portrayal of J.D., a self-styled outsider who also hides a dark sociopathy and would arguably become the archetype for troubled teenage outsiders and loners everywhere in the '90s and early 21st century.

"Heathers" is a film that satirizes - viciously so - teen suicide, murder, bullying, cliques, and youth-centered/-driven social activism; but while it treats its subject matter with (dark) humor, it does so with a certain degree of maturity and morality - maybe even a detached sensitivity - that can be very easy to miss by some people. Regardless, in the post-Columbine world of 2016, a film like this simply could not be made in today's time, because it would be considered to be in "bad taste." But "Heathers" is a movie that was made for teenagers. In the words of producer Denise Di Novi, "(Teenagers) see in it what they hate about high school - the tyranny of social groups... They get very clearly that these are their dark fantasies." And that's what "Heathers" is, a black comedy/high school satire that plays out as the perfect realization of their darkest fantasies about the high school experience.

^ In that regard, The Extreme Always Does Seem To Make An Impression.

9/10
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10/10
Fantastic
bex_erika8926 June 2006
I absolutely love Heathers it is the best black comedy I've ever seen, its truly dark and hilariously funny. The innocently wild talents of Winona Ryder combined with the rugged yet to die for Christian Slater corroborate to paint an embarrassingly realistic picture of the threats and angst of teenage life and erupt in the gloriousness of a masterpiece. A film that reaches beyond the limits of accepted cinema custom that pulses with the true horror of what it means to be a teenage girl trapped in the school environment plagued by peer pressure and the inevitable twisting of the sweet nature when one encounters one who will change the world, flip it upside down and alter reality to 'rock your world'. Heathers rages with emotion which will touch unveiled emotions for a very long time. A must see for anyone who likes any films in general
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Late eighties satirical semi cult classic.
DaveNoodles11 January 2006
Winona Ryder and Christian Slater are in top form, especially Slater is a lot of fun, chewing the scenery, spitting out rebellious bad boy lines left and right while doing his best Nicholson filtered through a cartoon ("This is Ohio. If you don't have a brewski in your hand you might as well be wearing a dress." "Football season is over, Veronica. Kurt and Ram had nothing left to offer the school except for date rapes and AIDS jokes.") It's a brilliant showy entertaining performance that makes it obvious why many thought he would go on to become a superstar. Ryder is less 'out there', she doesn't have as much to play with, but that's the name of the game when you're the "sympathetic" protagonist, and she does and excellent job with what she's got.

Those two essentially has to carry the film through the periodic problems it runs into, and it sure runs into some of those; a dream sequence disrupts the narrative completely, and comes of as the cheat it is, that problem segues right into the final act of the film which is a complete mess of morals and ideas from the entire spectrum tearing each other apart (I think some producers may very well have had some input there), and on top of that there's a certain "loose" quality to the visual style Lehman has chosen, a striking difference between scenes and sequences that aught to feel as part of the same whole (in other words, he's not quite sure what he's doing), that gives the film a wobbly unfocused feel. The attempt to make it a classical story about a hero against villains fails since the film also wants to make the lead an immoral self-absorbed teenager, it wants to be amoral and cold, meaningful and profound, all at the same time, eat its cake and have it, and that doesn't quite work... But it doesn't really matter that much, 'cause this film is gutsy, funny, original and clever enough to get away with problems, heck, it doesn't really seem to care if it's somewhat badly structured, Lehman & Co just throw on another swipe at teachers, teenagers, the media, parents, social hierarchy, or whatever tickles their fancy, and it's of and running again.

I very much enjoy Lehman's use of background action to deliver small insignificant non sequiturs, which despite their lack of direct meaning nonetheless broadens the films universe, and more importantly, makes me smile. The kid who for some reason is sleeping in the middle of the cafeteria through the entire school intro scene, the girl who keeps chewing gum through a funeral etc...

Undoubtedly outdated in some ways, but mainly it's still a fresh and funny look at teen angst and all that jazz.
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5/10
Dead-pan comic cynicism bites off more than it can chew...
moonspinner5528 September 2002
"Heathers" delights in shocking viewers with un-PC humor; that's fine, yet the picture is a mess from a filmmaker's stand-point, and Daniel Waters' script takes a dive with twenty minutes left to go. This is a movie that never goes in any particular direction, so Waters left himself an 'out': he could end it anywhere he wanted and figure he was safe. However the acting by leads Winona Ryder and Christian Slater (as high schoolers who murder members of the popular clique) is so strong that the audience is let down by where the writing takes them. This screenplay could be something conjured up in a high school writing class. It has pungent, dead-on scenes of satire and fantasy, but it flags too early and just doesn't have the smarts to realize that--in the end--it's dealing with characters who have become recognizable to us, and throwing them a cartoon bone is as insulting as a croquet ball to the forehead. ** from ****
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4/10
Dark and Strange
copperncherrio13 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I'm been on this Wionna Ryder streak, but it was all unintentional. Mermaids, this among various other things. I also happen to like Christian Slater. This movie is a satire where teen suicide is funny, as in they go around killing all the jerk offs of the school. Then it gets super crazy. Hey, I'm all about crazy, unique, and weird but the execution wasn't there. Well, it was there several times, but it just wasn't working for me.

The dark just got boring and strange beyond anything else. The first 20 minutes of the movie was wonderful but then it went down the hill of disappointment. And that's the greatest let down of all: high expectation build and then ripped from your hands. Disappointment has no bounds, no limitations on the effects of life.

I guess I was just not in the mood for a dark comedy. But I do like that there are Heathers out there.
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2/10
John Hughes on crystal meth (and that's not a compliment)...
Jonny_Numb9 February 2006
"Heathers" is one of those overly proud 'cult' items that, like "Plan 9 From Outer Space," has amassed some sort of sick, twisted band of followers that apparently reside at the shallow end of the Petri Dish. This would-be satire, would-be dark comedy, would-be misfit teen romance is riddled with Hughes-ian dialog speckled with would-be shocking F-words and epithets that would-be 'outta style' the following year. A young Winona Ryder plays Veronica, a hanger-on to an elite trio of girls (all named 'Heather') who practically run their "Anytown, USA" high school; in enters J.D. (a pre-deep-voiced Christian Slater), who enlists Veronica as a pawn in his quest to annihilate the pond scum walking the halls. The script trots out every cliché imaginable: the sexist, homophobic football jocks; the gawky nerds; the requisite Fat Girl; the bitch-princess elite; chain-smoking teachers; the mysterious loner; and parents who are either apathetic or psychotic. I wouldn't take issue with these stereotypes--heck, Mr. Hughes exploits them to no end in his films--if they had been used in a unique or funny way, which they aren't. The presentation of high school is so absurdly and self-consciously exaggerated that all attempts at humor and satire come off as contrived...and when the film finally abandons 'humor' in the third act for some very divergent, half-assed 'surrealistic symbolism,' you wonder what director Michael Lehmann and writer Daniel Waters had in mind to begin with. Whatever it was, it certainly wasn't anywhere near 'funny' or 'profound.' (My advice: seek out "Massacre at Central High" and "The Breakfast Club" to see this material done properly.)
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1/10
The Inoffensive Banality of Evil
dan-80016 June 2010
"Heathers" is easily one of the worst movies of the 90s.

Or it sure as sh*t *felt* like the 90s. Only the sh*ttiest decade could have produced such swill.

Seriously, I love when people say this tripe is nihilistic. It didn't have the b*lls to be anything of the sort! Only the most deserving d*ckheads were killed by an incredibly unbelievable Christian Slater (doing a lame Jack Nicholson impression, meaning that Slater was playing himself). Shrill and intentionally campy without an ounce of actual danger, "Heathers" moves from one dumb inside joke to the next, torpedoing the "messages" it thinks so highly of itself for thinking it's making. Only in its last scene does it even have the ability to offend.

That scene, by the way, is when Ryder is dancing with the girl in the wheelchair who (from what I recall) she'd been a total b*tch to through the entire movie. It's as if we're about to hear Sarah Connor's narration a la T2 - "If a highschooler can learn the value of befriending the disabled... Maybe we can too!" PUKE!

If I was in a wheelchair, I'd have walked out of the theater.
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10/10
A film for the disgruntled, anti-social teenager at heart.
Cinesnatch2 May 2003
The story is questionable: new boyfriend convinces impressionable girl to slowly kill off all the popular people in the school to make it a better place. The message isn't good: commit murder and blame it on the external influences of others.

The plot is somewhat inspired, but rough around the edges. "Heathers" breaks conventions, but doesn't adhere to any rules, so it's not heavy on substance. It attempts to be high camp and succeeds on those merits: its the unrestrained bitchiness-of-it-all that makes this film so watchable.

Heathers creates its own style of dialogue without seeming put-upon, like, let's say "Swingers." The language is trashy and lewd, but it finds its voice in Heather Chandler, played by Kim Walker (may she rest in peace), so effortlessly ferocious in her ability to cut people down, and the jeamous, unfaithful disciples who surround her.

Many of the performances can be annoying and/or unmemorable, with the exception of parts that really matter, namely, Veronica and Heather #1 -3. Country Club Courtney and Betty Finn are also fun in smaller roles and most of the adult roles deliver. Some of the guys are appropriately oafish and cocksure (like Kurt and Ram), and I felt very indifferent to Christian Slater's Jack Nicholson/James Dean.

This is a film that I watched over and over again on the HBO we got free somehow in the late 80's after our neighbor's started subscribing to it. (!?) Perhaps it appealed to my queer nature. I can't think of any other reason, because I wasn't any of those characters. I was somewhere between Peter Dawson (sans wealthy background), played by Jermey Applegate (may he rest in peace) and the geek who accidentally sneezes the milk out of his nose, although a friend enjoyed teasing me that I was Betty Finn. (while he self-appointed himself Heather Duke!) Maybe. It just had this cult-trash glimmer and came out when I was still a teenager. My high school life was uneventful, so I lived vicariously through the Heathers, I guess.

10: There's really nothing like it.
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Pitch black Anti-John Hughes comedy
george.schmidt4 April 2003
HEATHERS (1989) *** Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, Kim Walker, Shannon Doherty. Pitch black comedy about high school clique hell with Ryder facing homicidal tendencies she never knew existed unearthed by enigmatic new kid on the block Slater (in his breakthrough Nicholson-riffing performance), a sociopathic charmer, out to rid their establishment of the girls-rule Heathers, three little bitches who know that popularity is the only thing that matters. Smartly blending social mores, anomie, teen suicide, betrayal and of course inventive ways to off an enemy. .
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10/10
One of the strangest/funniest movies ever
amadeusrye30 March 2003
This film has one of the best screenplays ever written. The last minute of the film is probably the funniest ending to a movie I've ever seen. The idea is so imaginative and original. There are offensive moments in this film, but it also makes you think especially after the Columbine tragedy. I was shocked to find out that Kim Walker, the young actress who played Heather #1, died a couple years ago. Talk about strange coincidences and sad irony. If you watch the film, enjoy it and don't try to take it seriously...it's a satire not a slice-of-life. If you like "Heathers" I'd recommend another black comedy "The Last Supper" with Cameron Diaz and Ron Perlman.
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